You remember the BlackBerry Playbook? That's the 7-inch tablet from RIM that hasn't exactly set the tablet world on fire. It was panned at launch for the lack of functionality, but with the release of Playbook 2.0 a while back became a solid tablet. With a starting price of $199, the Playbook is a solid competitor to the Kindle Fire, although without the big ecosystem from Amazon.
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The hardware of the Playbook is very good, so it is a good buy for what it delivers. There is not a huge selection of apps in the App World, but I find all that I need to cover my needs. The arrival of some Android apps in the store is a nice benefit, although RIM doesn't make it easy to discover those in the market.
Playbook owners quickly developed a method to sideload many Android apps onto the Playbook, but RIM has stated it will do away with that practice with the 2.1 release in the future. It has been confirmed that any Android apps that have been sideloaded will still run after that release is applied, so get them loaded soon if you plan to do so.
The six apps I use most often on my Playbook provide most of the functionality I require on a daily basis. I use many of the preinstalled apps as I find them quite good, but those are not included on this list. It is compromised mostly of third-party apps with the exception of one from RIM.
1. Blaq. I am a heavy Twitter user and the first thing I install on most gadgets is a good app to use the service. Blaq is the Twitter client recommended most often by Playbook owners, and with good reason. It has an attractive UI that makes working with Twitter enjoyable and simple. It handles multiple Twitter accounts for those with multiple personalities, and updates in real-time. It is a solid performer and a good deal for $1.99.
2. GeeReader Pro. I work with Google Reader RSS feeds all day, and this app is as good as any for doing that. It is robust enough to make tracking thousands of feeds a breeze, and fully syncs with Google Reader online. The article view is customizable on the fly, allowing for optimum reading of full articles. $1.99.
3. Evernote. I am a heavy Evernote user and access it on all mobile devices I use. The Playbook app is not as full-featured as the Android and iOS apps, but it is still a decent method to see all of my notes in the cloud. For those needing the full features of other versions on the Playbook, it is possible to sideload the Android app and use that. Free.
4. PressReader. This app does an amazing job of presenting full newspapers for reading on the go. It automatically retrieves subscribed newspapers, and the reading experience is awesome on the 7-inch screen of the Playbook. The text rendering is very crisp, making it possible to read at most zoom levels. There are free trials for many of the periodicals, after which a fee is required. The app is free.
5. Podcasts. This app is part of the Playbook system, but is good enough to make this list. It handles audio and video podcasts nicely, and I use it all the time. Listening to podcasts while doing other things is a good use for the great multitasking on the Playbook. Free (installed with Playbook 2.0).
6. Kindle. I must have the Kindle app on all devices I use, and sadly Amazon never released a version for the Playbook. It is possible to sideload the Android Kindle app, and that is what I use. It is the same version as that on all Android devices, which is pretty darn good. The Playbook is the perfect size for long reading sessions, and the Kindle app is how I do it. Free (must sideload).